In 1993, a group of comedians that called itself “The State” come together to bring something fresh, irreverent and hilarious to MTV. Before the network made water cooler discussion fodder out of teen pregnancies, lavish cribs and the questionable antics of Jersey shore residents, it played host to three seasons of sketch comedy that blinked between bizarre and brilliant–often within a single bit.
“The State” has come and gone, but not without introducing the world to 11 fantastic comedians–most of whom are still making us laugh today. We did some Googling, some e-mailing and some ball-dipping in an effort to find out what has become of these funny men (and funny woman). Here’s what we found.
Most memorably the Jew to co-stars Ken Marino Italian and Kevin Allison’s Redhead Gay (see here), David Wain’s been prolific in various capacities since the sketch comedy show ended. Wain is now primarily a behind-the-scenes genius rather than onscreen goof, though he honed both talents at “The State.”
His upcoming film “Wanderlust“–a comedy he wrote and directed that stars Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd as a New York couple headed for a quieter life in Georgia–might surprise those accustomed to the subversive idiosyncrasy of “The State,” but he’s far from a stranger to mainstream comedy. Since the sketch show ended, Wain has written for “MADtv,” directed “Role Models” and currently serves as an executive producer on the Adult Swim comedy series “Children’s Hospital.”
Michael Patrick Jann
Along with cohort Wain, Jann served as director on “The State.” Since the show wrapped in 1995, the now scraggly-bearded giant has kept busy standing behind the camera of other comedic endeavors, including the 1999 comedy “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” numerous episodes of “Reno 911!” and the upcoming TV movie “Brave New World.” He’s also directed “Flight of the Conchords” stars Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement in several episodes of the award-winning show.
Jann’s hilarious commercial work with production company HELLO! complements his more robust TV directorial forays. A clever and racy Foot Locker ad may seem a far cry from his early work, but this short story of a young boy and a scarecrow’s shared love of Starburst is packed with the wit, whimsy and ridiculousness “The State” was known for.
Michael Ian Black
According to his Twitter, Black is now “The future spokesman for Taco Bell.” Just one more accolade to add to his already impressive faux-résumé, which includes jobs such as “motivational speaker” and “swinger.” His real résumé, however, boasts successful jaunts outside the sketch comedy circle.
The deadpan humorist has lent his talent to VH1s “I Love the…” series and appeared with fellow “State” cast member Michael Showalter in the short-lived Comedy Central show, “Michael and Michael Have Issues.” Black’s even written a children’s book: “Chicken Cheeks,” which is (perhaps unsurprisingly) about animals’ asses.
Portraying one of the most popular and enduring figures from “The State,” Showalter’s stint as Doug–the teenage malcontent with a memorable mantra–proved that even though the show attempted to steer clear from tired and predictable sketch comedy trappings, the group could still nail the concept when they chose to.
The Jersey-born Showalter went on to lend his comedic chops to CollegeHumor as the host of the appropriately named “The Michael Showalter Showalter.” Before that, he wrote, directed and starred in “The Baxter” with Michelle Williams and Elizabeth Banks. His book, “Mr. Funny Pants,” was published in February.
Another contender for “favorite recurring character,” Marino’s over-the-top “Louie” uttered a phrase that was echoed in living rooms and high school hallways all across America–much to the dismay of parents and teachers. If you were alive in the ’90s, chances are you exclaimed to someone: “I wanna dip my balls in it!”
After “The State” ended its MTV run and there was nothing left for Louie’s balls, Marino found work on more than two dozen TV shows: “Dawson’s Creek,” “Veronica Mars,” “Reno 911!”, “Party Down” and “Children’s Hospital,” to name a few. He even showed up in “Role Models” alongside several ex-castmates. Marino is currently producing Wain’s soon-to-be-released comedy, “Wanderlust.”
Joe Lo Truglio
Thanks to the breakthrough success of “The State” and the subsequent projects of his castmates, the Queens actor has had no shortage of work through the years. He’s even dabbled in video game voice acting, lending his talents to the popular “Grand Theft Auto” series on a few occasions.
Outside of showing up in post-”State” shows like “Viva Variety” and “Reno 911!” Lo Truglio’s popped up in “Hitch,” “Beer League,” “Superbad,” “Pineapple Express,” “Role Models,” “I Love You, Man” and the recent alien comedy, “Paul.”
He’s also somewhat of an artist with a possibly unhealthy fascination with drawing sharks.
Todd Holoubek was the oddball of the group for reasons that have nothing to do with being odd. Unlike his castmates, Holoubek exited The Biz rather than dedicate his life to it. While other members of the sketch comedy troupe have had their professional careers buoyed by their time with the show, Holoubek, though founder of the comedic cadre, moved on after the show ended.
Currently working as an adjunct professor at NYU teaching courses on computers and technology, Holoubek’s steered mostly clear of the limelight. His few acting credits are limited to cameos in “The Ten” and appearances in the comedy troupe “Stella,” comprised of Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black and David Wain.
Kenney was the lone female member of “The State”–two ovaries among 10 pairs of testicles. Her oft-manic energy, skillful acting and unique voice resulted in many memorable performances, most notably her role as an unemployed dock worker’s bitter wife in the sketch “Tenement,” whose hook was serious, curse-laden dialogue substituted with G-rated language.
The actress’ next gig had her working alongside Thomas Lennon as the former Mrs. to his Mr. Laupin in the variety show spoof, “Viva Variety.” But, most likely recognize the pixie-haired punk from her day job as Deputy Trudy Wiegel on “Reno 911!” and from the motion picture spin-off, “Reno 911!: Miami.”
Lennon entertained viewers with several recurring characters on “The State,” including Barry (accompanied by his $240 worth of pudding and sweet-talking partner, Levon), Old-Fashioned Guy and dim-witted inbred Emmett. But it’s his subdued portrayal of monkey-torturing zoologist Dr. Martin Crank that remains a series highlight.
Besides co-creating “Viva Variety” and “Reno 911!” (both starring himself) Lennon has lent his writing skills to Hollywood for a slew of big budget films that have been met with mixed results. “The Pacifier” and “Herbie: Fully Loaded” fizzled in theaters and drew harsh criticism while “Night at the Museum” proved successful and spawned a sequel that he also wrote.
Despite his spindly frame and diminutive stature, Garant consistently played angry characters on “The State.” High-pitched screams and a near-constant furrowed brow played against expectations perfectly, and led to hilarious results–like an abusive fast-food manager.
A longtime collaborator with Thomas Lennon, the pair has worked together on numerous projects, including Funny or Die skits, “Viva Variety,” the “Night at the Museum” films and “Reno 911!”
The duo has big plans for 2011: a strange coming-of-age tale involving leprechauns and firefighters. For any other writers, an impossibility. For Garant and Lennon, it’s a living.
Besides fellow “State” star Todd Holoubek, Kevin Allison is the only other member of the comedy group to pass on the additional work the bulk of his castmates jumped at.
Minus the token dalliances in “Viva Variety,” “Stella” and “Reno 911!: Miami,” Allison has remained relatively off the radar despite memorable performances in sketches like “Porcupine Racetrack.” Though not pursuing standard avenues, the comedian instead created a novel podcast/live show called RISK!: “an audio podcast and live stage show in New York City and Los Angeles…where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to tell in public.”